…. The worst reality of the aging process is not the assorted bodily malfunctions or even having to imagine Ann-Margaret in her mid 60s …. It’s accepting the fact that “the grown-ups” really don’t know squat, diddly or jack and possibly never did. As a young pup, Linus Van Pelt and I had as our outing flannel blankie that “the grown ups” were indeed in charge and the boogie men under the bed had no chance. I’ve been a “grown up” long enough now to know better. (NOTE: This is NOT a political rant!)
My buddy Duke Buck sums it up that Life is pretty much endless repetition of kindergarten sandbox squabbles. ….. “make him stop …. I didn’t do anything …. Did too …. Did not …. Did too … you did it first …. Did not … did too …. It’s NOT FAIR …” AAARRGGGHHH! We don’t really get any “smarter” just bigger.
My dad was a “city father”. Well, since our “city”, at 18,000, was more of “a Mayberry” maybe he was a “town father”. Our den was frequently the site of grown-up discussions over “zoning” and “ordinances” and folks considering running for assorted boards and commissions. The grown ups always wore suits back then and most even wore fedoras …. think Capone, Nitti, and Bogart. It was normal to see a big Buick pull into the driveway, three men wearing suits and hats emerge and walk towards our front door to ask my dad’s opinion on some community matter. ….. that’s it …. The Dumbing Down of America coincided with the demise of the chapeau …. and unfiltered Old Gold cigarettes
First let’s clear up several misconceptions. (1) Am I saying “I am smart” and that the definition of “not very smart” coincides with anyone having opinions contrary to mine? No, not at all. I use my own “un-smartness” as proof of my point. ….. (2) If “grown-ups” aren’t really very smart does that mean kids should not listen to them and heed their advice? Definitely not …. Grown-ups are still much “smarter” than kids …. But just not smart enough to keep our socio-cultural trains running on time. …. And (3) Do “smart”, “wise”, and “good” all mean the same? Can someone be one or two of the above without being the third? Absolutely. That sooooo very few have the total package is our primary cultural dilemma.
One of the “smartest” guys I know …. Who has really been around and hobnobbed with the hoity and the toity tells me the two “smartest” men he’s ever known are Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich. He wasn’t measuring moral compasses or honesty or anything but the capacity to quickly assess situations, merge prior knowledge bases and formulate a course of actions using the tools at his disposal. That those two, and many many men, possess a complement of clay feet and an inner “Eddie Haskell” that can derail their smarts is a given.
As long time readers know, I’ve had enough Forrest Gump situations in my life to observe a number of celebrity savants. Be they talented athletes or assorted others who have achieved fame and notoriety in a world where outrageousness tends to trump genuine accomplishment. Holding a Guinness record for how many cue balls one can stuff in one’s mouth will get you a magazine cover quicker than a cure for Alzheimers. That pretty much says it all ….. then the yahoo with the five cue balls in his mouth gets courted by political hopefuls for his endorsement …. Ouch!
When I awoke one day and found myself in the chronological middle of “grown up”, I was dismayed that my personal bucket of wisdom was only half-full at best. Now all the hot stoves and wet paint I had touched to that point had left their psychological residue for sure so all that time on grade had not been in vain. I had a large sack of “clever” in my tool box and I could hold my own and then some in any parlor game of Jeopardy or Trivial Pursuits but neither I nor my peers measured anywhere near “smart enough” to be in charge.
NOTE: Everything is relative …. In a room with 137 randomly selected Shineolas, the two smartest objects in the room would be me …. and the doorknob.
I have been around plenty of fancy lawyers, skilled surgeons, PGA golfers, Olympic champions, high-falutin’ politicians and captains of industry ad infinitum. I confess I have never known a serial killer or mass murderer that I am aware of. I understand that Ted Bundy belonged to MENSA. So does Fruitcake Freddie From Franklin Street not that you should draw any other conclusions from that. I know lots of folks with incredible aptitudes in various areas …. And if those skills are ajudged to be most valued then they get to wear a tiara or ride in the fanciest convertible in the local Christmas parade. Is the ability to hit a one-iron 240 yards into a crosswind and make it stop dead on an asphalt-hard postage stamp green a measure of smart, wisdom or simply an admirable acquired skill?
In this era of uber-technology, the “geek” often “gets the girl” …. but, alas, still does not know what to do with her when he gets her. Does Melinda Gates cast a lustful eye at their pool boy while Bill fiddles with his newest motherboard? Next time you get upgraded to first class watch how many hoity toity executives are cussin’ their recalcitrant Ipods. When Clyde Barrow’s Packard broke down he was at the mercy of C.W. Moss who simply “blowed out” the dirt in his carburetor. In the Land of The Blind, the one-eyed man is king.
Because we only travel life’s road once, maybe “is this as smart as I’m ever gonna get” has plagued man since he became a bi-ped. In my case, my Dad died during my junior year in college. We never had that “man to man” chat where he would have told me that (1) Life is NOT fair …. (2) Always count your change …. (3) Change your oil every 3,000 miles …. (4) Yes, there are a lot of hypocrites in church. So what? Still go. It’s good for you …. (5) If, on your deathbed, you can come up with a list of enough true friends to be your pallbearers, you’ve likely led a decent life; otherwise be cremated. ……
As I stroll down Life’s 14th Fairway, I’ve learned those lessons so maybe I AM as wise as I’m gonna get. Maybe I would have learned them faster had Dad been able to warn me, but likely not.
If I compose a list of the “wisest people I know”, the key components in addition to knowing lots of “stuff” are ….
- Humility …. Their personal accumulation of “things” and achievements are triffle. They have savored the journey, wherever it has led them, more than the current destination.
- Curiosity …. They like to take things apart to see how they work whether it be Grandpa’s watch or a board of directors.
- A Sense of Humor …. They find great delight in observing mankind’s futility in trying to control it’s own destiny. …. And the greatEST delight in recounting the foolishness in trying to do so themselves. “Smart” and Arrogance might co-exist …. But true Wisdom and Arrogance cannot. No wise man ever takes “the face in the mirror” too seriously.
How the collective “wisdom” of a society factors in with rapidly diminishing civility and rapidly increasing hedonism is a topic for another day. It did not bode well for either the Greeks nor the Romans as I recall. Even the Aztecs forgot their ancestors’ admonition to “never trust conquistadors carrying smallpox”.
Why should you hold up a one-iron
if caught on a golf course in a thunderstorm?
Paula Deen lives in Savannah. Her success story is a heartwarming one. Can she survive the curse of Food Network celebrity?
Did you see where 30-some Duke MBA students got nailed for cheating? As one who used to watch Bob Verga and Steve Vacendak how can we be surprised …. You know “they’re all a buncha _______” ???? ….. say whaaaaa?
My vote for “smartest” character on TV is Sebastian Stark on “Shark”. Check it out on Thursday nights. I believe Sebastian would eat Allan Shore’s lunch. House is very smart too, but too creepy.
Long time N&O curmudgeon A.C. Snow proved on Sunday that drooling his oatmeal has finally gummed up his keyboard. It’s past time to ship that sack of arrogant flatulence to the glue factory.
Among those 5 things my Dad never told me, you’re wondering about “always wear clean underwear in case you’re in an accident” …. that’s a “Mamma told me” thing. ….. silly.
I had what I believe was my first “Lexington-style barbecue” on Saturday at “Speedie’s” one of Lexington’s most touted “joints”. The experience ranks closer to “my first cigar” than it does to when I saw Mount Rushmore. To be honest …. I’m kinda losing my taste for “cue” in general. Yeah, I know …. so much for getting into Heaven for BobLee now.